The 1967 Battle of Dak To (4)

My team and I continued to watch as the North Vietnamese offensive took shape. The pattern was unmistakable: command elements move in, reconnaissance begins, combat forces take their positions, a simplified signal plan is introduced for ease of communication during combat, and a forward HQ—a tactical command post—takes control of fighting units. The stage was set.

We knew from intercepted reconnaissance messages that the attack at Dak To would begin between 30 October and 4 November. Preparations for combat throughout the highlands were on the same schedule. We and NSA were regularly reporting the results of intercept and analysis to the 4th Infantry Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade. To be sure they were aware of our findings, we scheduled a briefing for the commander of the 4th Infantry Division, Major General William Peers. I warned him that the North Vietnamese were preparing a highlands-wide offensive and that the attack on the Dak To Special Forces camp was imminent.

He shook his head and pointed to our camp on Engineer Hill. “So I’m supposed to believe that some kind of magic allows a bunch of shaky girbs [acronym for GI rat-bastards], distinguished more for their spit than their polish and abetted by an unknown civilian, to use a tangle of antennas and funny talk to divine the combat plans of the enemy?” He waved us away. The briefing was over.

The commander whose troops were threatened didn’t believe our warning.

More tomorrow.

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